Hospitals Refer Patients to Malpractice Lawyers

And now for something different: hospitals in Maryland are keeping lists of malpractice lawyers to refer patients to. These lawyers are willing to offer discounted fees in exchange for trying to settle cases quickly.

Physicians are always wary of malpractice lawsuits, and even with the proper malpractice insurance, physicians can find their personal assets in danger. So it may be surprising to learn that some hospitals in Maryland are referring patients to malpractice lawyers.

Several medical systems have cultivated lists of lawyers who will charge lower fees and try to settle cases, according to a Baltimore Sun report. The attorneys and hospitals say that the system is in place so patients can avoid “the lengthy, draining litigation process.”

Malpractice lawsuits can take years to go through the courts, and the referrals are part of the state’s attempt to reform medical liability.

However, some find the practice to be more than a little suspect.

Sun

While the reported that the chair of the Maryland State Bar Association’s ethics committee didn’t see a problem with the defendant recommending a lawyer to a potential plaintiff, some lawyers question whether or not a patient would want to get involved.

After getting referrals from the hospital, can the lawyer truly push for the best deal for the patient? Or will they want to help the hospital out a little so they can continue to receive referrals?

However, it’s unclear how frequently hospitals in Maryland choose to refer patients to one of the lawyers on their lists. One participating lawyer had fewer than half a dozen clients despite the fact that he’s two dozen lists.

"Malpractice litigation is an expensive, painful and time-consuming process for both the patient and the providers. By approaching the patient and their family early, it is our hope that if compensation is appropriate, we can get that in the hands of the patient and their family when they need it: immediately," MedStar Health, one of the participating medical systems, wrote in a statement.

If the injury to a patient and resulting financial consequences are significant, MedStar is “more comfortable” with the patients and their families receiving legal counsel.

"To this end, we have identified a small number of very seasoned, highly-respected lawyers in the community who have impeccable reputations for being fair and honest," MedStar wrote.

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